News and Views
Tycoon who gave Tories £200k nominated for a peerage by David Cameron
A Ugandan-born Indian tycoon who has given the Tories more than £200,000 in donations over six years will today be nominated for a peerage by David Cameron.
Dolar Popat, a former refugee and self-made multi-millionaire, will be given a seat in the House of Lords.
The new list of peers for the House of Lords is to be unveiled today but the decision to elevate Mr Popat threatens to ignite another ‘cash-for-peerages’ row.
A former fast food waiter, he has helped bankroll the work of Tory frontbenchers who are now ministers, including International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi, and Nick Herbert, the police minister.
He has also made a series of donations to the constituency of fellow Ugandan-born MP, Shailesh Vara.
The 55-year-old father-of-three has built a fortune worth an estimated £42million and is the 1,296th richest person in Britain.
His family was forced to flee Idi Amin’s regime and he arrived from Uganda as a 17 year-old in 1971, with just £10 in his pocket.
Mr Popat worked as a waiter at a Wimpy restaurant during the day to fund his business studies classes at night.
He became an accountant and went on to form a company that advised small companies on how to raise capital.
His wealth grew after he founded the TLC Group, which owns a string of hotels and care homes across Britain.
He gave around £196,000 to the party from 2004, including a cash injection of £50,000 in March last year before the local and European elections.
Mr Popat also gave sponsorship worth £23,000 to the party.
In total, his largesse is worth £219,700.
In an article for the Conservative-Home website, Tory MP Mark Field warned that new appointments to the House of Lords could become the next big political scandal.
Warning: A Tory MP has said new appointments to the House of Lords could be the next big political scandal
He called for a wholly elected House of Lords, adding: ‘Conservatives should ideally take the lead here by restricting any future patronage to the House of Lords to those taking up ministerial appointments.
‘Mark my words, the appointment of peers has the potential to be the next parliamentary scandal in the making.
‘I hope that the Conservative leadership will once more show itself ahead of the curve.’
The last cash-for-peerages row erupted in 2006 when the House of Lords Appointments Commission blocked some of the then prime minister Tony Blair’s nominations.
The watchdog discovered that the three rejected nominees had given loans to Labour worth a total of £3.5million.
Labour treasurer Jack Dromey, who is married to acting Labour Leader Harriet Harman and is now an MP, ordered an investigation into the loans after he said he knew nothing about them.
After a year-long review, the Crown Prosecution Service declared that no charges would be brought but the issue dogged Mr Blair’s final months in office.
Mr Popat, who credited former Tory prime minister Sir Edward Heath with allowing refugees from Uganda to settle in Britain, has made statements about immigration that could alarm the Tory high command, after the party studiously avoided making it an election issue.
At a dinner of the Hindus in Britain Forum, Mr Popat said that multi-culturalism had stopped working. ‘There are too many immigrants of too many kinds,’ he said.
‘When I first came to Britain in 1971 there were the Scots, the Irish, the Indians, Pakistanis and the Afro-Caribbeans here. Now we have a large number of people from different parts of Africa and Eastern Europe.’
Downing Street declined to comment on the peerage issue.